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Overview on Construction


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Overview on Construction

Construction is the assembling or building of infrastructure – either a single structure or multiple buildings. It involves the cooperation of many people from various sectors within the construction industry to design, build and then fit out a building. There are three types of construction; building, civil and industrial.

Building Construction

Building construction is primarily the erecting of structures to provide shelter and is most commonly used to construct residential and commercial buildings. Shelters have been built since the beginning of time and as the centuries and years have progressed the materials used have seen vast improvements. Today’s materials are so advanced that they can now directly impact the interior of a building environment by:
  • creating sound and light barriers
  • regulating air temperatures
  • controlling humidity and odours
  • being eco-friendly
All construction projects need to abide by local and state laws and building authorities’ codes of practice and regulations. These also determine the types of materials used. For example, in Western Australia most homes are built with bricks and concrete whereas in Queensland most are primarily made out of timber and are referred to as “Queenslanders”. No matter the project, all building construction has the same elements in common:
  • financial sourcing and funding
  • legal documenting
  • budgeting and estimating costs of materials and tradesmen
  • designing
  • construction

Industrial Construction

Industrial construction is a specialised niche form of construction. According to IDS Contractors industrial construction, “encompasses the design, installation, and maintenance of all of the structural and mechanical components in power plants, factories, etc.”

Most industrial construction projects are large-scale and for commercial organisations like mining, manufacturing, medical, etc. The processes involved are relatively the same as the building construction segment. There is an additional requirement for highly-skilled personnel who have expertise in negotiating governmental policies and procedures, liaising with government administration, providing environmental studies and impact solutions, sourcing finance, estimating costs, planning and designing, and finally, constructing the building.

Civil Engineering

According to Wikipedia:

“Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. It is traditionally broken into several sub-disciplines including environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, municipal or urban engineering, water resources engineering, materials engineering, coastal engineering, surveying, and construction engineering.”

Civil engineering dates back to Ancient Egypt when the design of wheels and sails lead to the invention of transportation. Civil engineering has historically been known as military engineering and only received the name “civil” in the 18th century to encompass all civilian needs. Most Australian employees in the civil engineering sector would have obtained degrees and be licensed as a Chartered Professional Engineer with Engineers Australia.


If the construction site is far from community areas, the workers will need reliable, safe and comfortable accommodation solutions. Companies usually hire portable construction site accommodation containers, prefabricated or modular units and toilet units. The containers come in different models with a variety of options. A basic unit would normally have windows, an entrance door, vinyl floor coverings, electrical wiring and a telephone connection. The more sophisticated units come complete with a bathroom, kitchen, a heating/air conditioning unit, overhead lighting and built-in features like desks and tables.

Some units are flat packed and only require a few hours of assembly by workmen. Most modular buildings are single-story but they can be designed to include two or more stories, complete with stairwells or elevators. The units can withstand harsh weather conditions, are robust and have anti-vandal locking systems. Furniture is sourced from specialist stores or bought second hand.

If construction is estimated to continue for some time - maybe even years as in the case of whole community building - more permanent accommodation is needed. Companies will often lease or purchase homes, apartments or flats in which their workers can live. These accommodation units will be completely fitted-out according to the needs of the employees.


Permanent “resorts” are built for construction workers who work abroad or far from home. These communal living areas are built to provide the employees with a resort-style environment providing a relaxed and fun atmosphere. The ambience is necessary to keep employees comfortable while they are away from family and natural home comforts.

This type of community may have:
  • Mess halls as a communal eatery area where catering is provided by a catering company
  • Communal kitchen and bathroom facilities (if units are not outfitted with their own)
  • A restaurant
  • Recreational centres like gymnasiums and a movie house
  • Sporting grounds and facilities like tennis courts, golf course and swimming pools
  • Garages and workshops

Dragline Excavators and Diggers

Various types of construction equipment are used during the initial phase of cleaning and clearing sites. See our article on Mining Construction. The most important pieces of equipment are dragline excavators and diggers.

A dragline excavator is heavy machinery used in civil engineering, surface mining, and excavation. The smaller lifting cranes are used for port and road construction, canal dredging and as pile driving rigs. The larger cranes are used in strip-mining to remove rocks, soil and waste lying above a coal seam. These cranes are usually built on site.

dragline.jpgA large bucket is suspended from a boom with wire ropes and is referred to as a dragline bucket system. The bucket is controlled by wires and chains. When lowered the bucket digs into the earth; the controlled wires scoop up the deposits and then with a swinging action the bucket moves the collection into a location away from the dig site. This is commonly known as a dump operation.

Picture: Wikipedia

According to Wise Geek, “The largest walking dragline ever created was aptly named Big Muskie. It was the largest mobile excavation machine on Earth, weighing in at 13,500 tons (about 12,250 MT) and standing nearly 223 feet (almost 68 m) high. The hydraulically driven machine required 13,800 volts of electricity to excavate 325 tons (about 295 MT) of dirt with a bucket that had a capacity of 220 cubic yards (about 168 m3).

Diggers come in various shapes and sizes, with mini-diggers becoming more popular in use as the latest technology in hydraulics have made them more powerful, adaptable and mobile. Most models can rotate 360 degrees and are ideal for small sites and are used for digging foundations, trenches for pipes, swimming pools, etc. The larger diggers are often equipped with a hammer and shovel and are used for large construction sites, in demolitions and in road works.

Australian and International Construction Associations

You can find a complete list of national, state and international associations dealing with the construction industry in our Australian and International Constructions Associations article.


The construction industry is used across the board. All industries and activities are reliant on the construction industry at some point or another. Construction is used everywhere from building homes to constructing large-scale mine sites. Dedicated and experienced workers are employed in specialist fields within the industry with most belonging to associations and governing bodies, all aimed at improving the construction industry for a better future.

Visit our Construction and Allied Services page for more information about construction in the resource industry.
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